2008 Men's Tennis Preview
Jan. 15, 2008
The University of Memphis men's tennis team heads in to the 2007-08 season with a bunch of pieces in place for a strong showing against yet another difficult schedule that Head Coach Paul Goebel has put together. The Tigers return five letterwinners from last season's 8-13 team, including seniors Amrit Narasimhan and Jimmy Khougassian, junior Benedikt Fischer and sophomores Spencer Heflin and Charlie Ramsay. The Tigers have also added talented newcomers Michael Gaerthoeffner and, most recently, Leon Naseman.
Narasimhan, who was the No. 98 ranked player in the ITA Pre-Season Rankings this fall, was the 2006-07 C-USA Newcomer of the Year and was named second team all-conference by the league coaches. Also a member of the C-USA All-Academic Team, Narasimhan capped his first season in Memphis with a 7-4 mark at No. 1 singles and with a 12-5 record during dual season play. At one point, Narasimhan had won five straight matches at No. 1 singles before a foot injury took him out of the line-up for a trio of matches, moving fellow senior Jimmy Khougassian up to the No. 1 spot in the line-up for that run of matches.
Junior Benedikt Fischer anchored the No. 3 singles slot for a majority of last season, going 5-6 at No. 3 and 8-12 in dual season play. Fischer, who played some matches in all three top singles slots, also had a short fall season due to injury. He will likely have a new doubles partner this year after teaming with Narasimhan last year at the top doubles slot. The duo was 6-10 at No. 1 doubles, but the fall success of the tandem of Narasimhan and Ramsay may mean Fischer could be paired with fellow German Michael Gaerthoeffner for the spring 2007 matches, giving the freshman an experienced doubles partner for his first semester of collegiate dual season tennis.
Charlie Ramsay enters his sophomore season after a freshman campaign that saw him tie for the team lead with 16 victories. Ramsay was 9-9 at No. 4 singles last year, and 2-1 at No. 3, and is a likely candidate to move up in the line-up should Khougassian not be able to bounce back from injury in time for the spring. Ramsay teamed with Narasimhan to win the Southern Intercollegiate Doubles crown in the fall, and will likely move from his spot at No. 2 doubles, where he teamed with Khougassian last year for a 10-10 mark, up to the No. 1 slot with Narasimhan for the 2008 dual season.
Fellow sophomore Spencer Heflin is also back following a solid freshman season. Heflin was 4-2 at No. 5 singles and 6-4 at No. 6 in his first spring campaign, and teamed with now-graduated Garrison Pilant for an 8-11 mark at No. 3 doubles. For doubles in 2008, Heflin may be teamed with newcomer Leon Naseman, who joined the Tigers in January. Naseman, a third German on the roster for Goebel, will likely see a lot of playing time with just seven players on the roster to start the spring and with injuries something that has cropped up in each of the past two seasons for various Tigers on the roster.
Freshman Michael Gaerthoeffner is the other German freshman on the Tiger roster. Gaerthoeffner led Memphis with a 7-2 record during the fall season, advancing to the singles final at the North Florida tournament before having to withdraw from that tournament due to injury. That injury also cost Gaerthoeffner a chance to compete in the ITA Southeast Regional to cap the fall season.
The schedule that Head Coach Paul Goebel has put together is as intimidating as always. The Tigers will face 10 teams that were nationally-ranked at the beginning of the spring 2008 pre-season, with all but one of those contests being played on the road. Memphis will face No. 43 William & Mary in the USF Spring Invitational, and will also face host USF and Florida A&M before officially opening dual season play against Austin Peay on Jan. 25th. Memphis will also face No. 33 Vanderbilt, No. 75 San Diego, No. 50 San Diego State, No. 5 Ole Miss, No. 11 Oklahoma State, No. 34 Oklahoma, No. 24 Tulsa, No. 47 SMU and No. 51 Middle Tennessee as part of the regular season. All of those matches except the Middle Tennessee match will be played on the road.